THATTA, June 22: An attempt was made on Saturday by some Pakistanis to recapture the world record of planting most saplings in a day, with the enthusiasts claiming in the evening that they had planted more than 750,000 mangrove saplings on an oceanic island along Turshian Creek near the deltaic settlement of Kharo Chann.
They claimed that with the feat Pakistan had become eligible to reenter the Guinness World Records (GWR). Earlier, by achieving a target of planting 550,000 mangrove saplings India had broken a record set by Pakistan in 2009 when 541,176 saplings were planted on the coastal island Khedewari along the shores of Keti Bunder in Thatta district.
Following the GWR rules, 300 social workers, volunteers and forest department employees took part in the exercise which began at 5am and ended at 6.20pm, the time when high tide starts.
They planted four mangrove varieties — Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia marina, Aegiceras cornicu-latum and Ceriops tagal.
Mangrove is a major source of obstruction to sea intrusion and considered to be a first line of defence against natural disasters and oceanic threats as well as a source for the development of fish and shrimp hatcheries.
The festival-like event was sponsored by the Asian Development Bank in coordination with the Coastal Development Authority and members of the civil society.
A former director general of the National Institute of Oceanography, Shoukat Hayat, and a conservation expert and biologist, Rafiul Haq, monitored the plantation campaign on behalf of GWR in their capacity as independent adjudicators.
Riaz Ahmed Wagan, the Chief Conservator of Forests, Sindh, told Dawn that his department played important role in making what he called ‘a world record event’.
He said till 1.40pm the participants had planted about 525,000 saplings of mangroves on an area of 701 hectares. He said his department had arranged 980,000 mangrove saplings keeping in view the chances of wastages.
Referring to a 2009 survey conducted by Suparco (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission), Mr Wagan said mangrove forests covered about 107,300 hectares in the Indus River Delta.
He said Pakistan had world’s 24th largest mangrove forest, adding that Burma, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil were the coun-
tries having largest mangroves.
Stressing upon the importance of mangrove forests and its global significant, particularly in the context of 2005’s tsunami, he said, mangrove forests were vital for coastal islands which were devoid of vegetations.
Additional Secretary of Forests Aijaz Nizamani and Project Director of Sea Intrusion Project Agha Tahir Hussain told media personnel that the eye-catching and typically fan-shaped Indus River Delta built by the large quantity of silt brought by the river was spreading over 600,000 hectares.
They said the Delta which was comprised of 17 major creeks, enormous mudflats, a number of minor creeks and salt tolerant trees with stilt route
or pneumatophores and viviparous seeding dominating mangrove forests, had great potential for ecotourism.
Chairman of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Syed Mohammad Ali Shah stressed the need for the conservation of existing forests of mangroves, particularly forests along Sir Creek and Ghori Creek.
A large number of people from nearby villages and islands and social activists and journalists from Karachi and Hyderabad gathered to see the festival-like arrangements for the plantation exercise.
Vocalists Samina Kanwal, Qadir Bux Mithoo, Mazhar Ah, Ahmed Mughal and other artistes enthralled people with their performances.
By Iqbal Khwaja courtesy Daily Dawn